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Last Updated: Tuesday, 17 May, 2005, 14:35 GMT 15:35 UK
Musharraf to go for another term
President Musharraf
Musharraf reneged on a promise to resign as army chief
Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf will seek to stay on in power when his present term of office expires in 2007, the government says.

"He will stay as president beyond 2007 because Pakistan needs his leadership," Information Minister Sheikh Rashid told the AFP news agency.

Gen Musharraf ousted the civilian government of Nawaz Sharif in a military coup in 1999.

He has since become a vital ally to the United States in its war on terror.

Gen Musharraf declared himself to be president two years after the coup. He subsequently won a highly controversial referendum to stay on as president until 2007.

The poll was marred by widespread reports of vote-rigging.

Electoral college

"There is no doubt that he will remain a candidate for the post of president after 2007 and, inshallah, he will win," Information Minister Rashid told Reuters news agency.

US President George W. Bush (L) and Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf
Musharraf can rely on support from the US

Under the constitution, Pakistan is due to hold parliamentary elections in 2007.

The president is then due to be selected by an electoral college made up of parliament and the assemblies of Pakistan's four provinces.

At present the Pakistan Muslim League, which supports President Musharraf, holds a majority in parliament and three of the provincial assemblies.

The government has been holding talks with the main secular opposition parties, led by Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto, both of whom are living outside of Pakistan.

Both the secular and Islamic opposition parties have been constantly at odds with Gen Musharraf since his 1999 coup.

However, he has enjoyed strong support from the west, particularly the United States since the 11 September attacks in the US.

Last year he outraged the opposition by going back on a promise to stand down as head of the military.

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